Genetic Aspects of the Immune Response

  • R. D. Owen


The immune response probably evolved primarily for the advantages it confers on the organism in recovery from infectious disease, and specific protection against reinfection by the same pathogen. The response is characterized by recognition of substances foreign to the organism, elaboration of antibodies with combining sites complementary to parts of the foreign substances that induced antibody formation, and a specific “memory”, such that later exposure to the same or a sufficiently similar foreign substance provokes a more rapid and intense antibody response than did the first exposure. Because the immune response system has evolved by selection, we can assume that its elaboration has depended on genetic variations occurring in the past. In its present form the system is highly complex, involving numerous processes of programmed cellular function, differentiation and interaction. Thus the phylogeny, the ontogeny, and the physiology of the immune response all indicate a high order of genetic dependency.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Owen
    • 1
  1. 1.California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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